We spent our time last week learning about the importance of being still in God’s presence and seeking to know Him daily. We talked about His desire to carry our burdens and lighten our loads. Now that we’re “content to just sit,” perhaps there is another step to consider.
We can sit all day and never actually learn or put into practice a thing if we are not listening to our Shepherd. While Sitting and Seeking are heart issues; listening and learning are issues of the heart and mind. Let me explain. Sitting and Seeking require being still in God’s presence, sensing God’s desire to be with us and in turn desiring to be with Him, humbling ourselves as we “seek Him with all our hearts,” and coming to the realization that if all we could do was sit with our Jesus, that would be all we need!
Listening and Learning, however, are an issue of the mind, intellect, and attitude. It requires a conscious decision on our parts to step down and hand over the reigns to the Lord. Think about it, to listen we must BE QUIET and to learn we must allow God to TEACH. I don’t know about you, but I like to talk to God. I like to tell Him what I think every now and then and let Him in on what I think the best agenda is – as though He really needs my suggestions.
So, we’re on “L” this week and the “L” in SLOW Time stands for, you guessed it, Listen and Learn. The shepherd’s job is to lead his sheep and the sheep’s job is to listen to the Shepherd’s voice and learn to follow him.
Let’s take a look at Psalm 23:2-3 as these verses can help us learn how to SLOW down and follow our Shepherd, Jesus.
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
About Fifteen years ago, I went to my Pastor for advice. I was struggling with learning how to hear God’s voice. He told me that there were three criteria that had to be met in order to hear God’s voice:
I discovered later that there is a beautiful picture of this inPsalm 23:2-3. Read it again above.
First, our Shepherd, Jesus, wants to lead us to lie down in green pastures. I think of this as lying down in the rich, abundant pastures of His Word.
For a sheep to lie down in green pastures he must be:
Isn’t that what God’s Word does for us? It satisfies us (frees us from hunger), gives us security (frees us from fear), gives us freedom from the worries and trials of life (frees us from friction with others), and gives us peace from the aggravations of life (frees us from flies and parasites).
Next our Shepherd wants to lead us beside still waters.
Sheep can’t swim. They are afraid of running water and if they tried to swim it would be like a human swimming with an overcoat on. The sheep would sink because its coat is too bulky!
We often go through life sinking instead of swimming because we forget our most powerful life-vest – the quiet, still sweet time of prayer. That is what still waters are to me – time spent alone with the Shepherd – talking, walking, listening, communicating. When I’m on my knees, I’m at rest!! I am beside quiet, still waters.
Lastly, we must allow our Shepherd to restore our soul.
I have learned through the years that hearing God’s voice is like nothing else for me. It is so recognizable not because it is audible, but because of the sense of peace that I have after I’ve heard it. I hear that still, small voice in the depths of my heart and mind. It is as though a light comes on, I hear God’s voice, and I just know. There is a peace there – a satisfaction, a sense of relief in knowing that the questions are over and the problem is solved. Even if the answer is not what I wanted, even if the answer requires some work or repentance on my part, my soul is still restored; the turmoil is over and there is rest.
I truly believe that our hearts are never more restored than when we hear God’s voice. The secret to hearing God’s voice lies in your heart’s readiness to receive the answer. And God knows when your heart is ready by hearing you say four little words from Matthew 6:9-10 … Thy will be done.
The Lord knows your heart, your needs, and what is best for you. If you can truly and earnestly say your will be done, Lord, He knows that you are ready to receive His answer. Your heart is in-line with His. It is not divided. It is purely and wholly turned to Him. Matthew 5:8 says,Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.
That is what my pastor meant that day I went to Him and he said that I must be ready to hear. He meant that my heart needed to be in a humble and submissive place. I needed to have “no will of my own with regard to the matter” as George Mueller said.
SLOW down this week and focus on these three elements of intimacy with God. You’ll be glad you did when you begin to recapture the abundant life your Shepherd has prepared for you!
Jacqueline C. Heider
Director of Discipleship & Women’s Ministry